Is 1986 Fleer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Now Worth More Than the Michael Jordan Rookie?

One of the most valuable sports cards in most modern and vintage era basketball is of course the 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan #57 card. This is not a true rookie in the classic “first pro issue” sense but it is nonetheless considered that way. Now there is a legitimate potential question about what the most valuable card is in that 1986 Fleer set — and we have to consider the set’s stickers as well.

PWCC Marketplace’s May (2022) Premier Auction included 419 lots from baseball, basketball, football, and many other sports and genres. PWCC’s total auction sales in this event were more than $18.65 million, but of the multiple record prices seen the biggest surprise may have been the auction for a 1986 Fleer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar sticker with an unprecedented $240,000 sale.

This sticker features Kareem in his classic sky-hook pose and the card #1 in the sticker set was graded a perfect PSA 10 Gem Mint. Of the entire 2,484 1986 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar sticker examples graded by PSA, there have been only 14 of that entire population that has received the perfect PSA 10 grade. (Image below by PWCC)

1986 Fleer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar sticker PSA 10

While Michael Jordan is considered the greatest of all time (GOAT) by many collectors, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is still currently the all-time points scored leader for professional football. That is a record that has held for over 30 years, even if it is likely that LeBron James can break that all-time points record in this coming NBA season.

It is important to put this new Kareem sticker sale into context. PSA’s own data shows that the last four sales in a PSA 9 were $6300 (11/15/2021), $6509 (12/20/2021), $5200 (1/19/2022) and $3500 (1/22/2022).

Now let’s look at the last PSA 10 sales, and not considering private transactions. The PSACard site shows a last example graded PSA 10 sold on February 10, 2020 via eBay/probstein for just $18,869.69. And PWCC’s prior three sales when they were on eBay were:

  • $17,601.00 on 8/19/2019
  • $11,151.00 on 2/14/2018
  • $16,676.00 on 9/20/2017

Collectors Dashboard has just highlighted how the growing population of Michael Jordan rookie cards in the prized 1986 Fleer basketball set has continued to grow but also how its prices have more or less stabilized since crashing from the early 2021 zenith in the hobby.

PWCC’s prior record sale for any 1986 Fleer sticker was for Michael Jordan’s #8 graded in a PSA 10 (prices after the buyer’s premium, by date and by highest prices):

  • 2/04/2021 for $200,100
  • 3/19/2021 for $155,201
  • 1/21/2021 for $115,000
  • 2/20/2022 for $114,000
  • 3/30/2021 for $95,100

In fact, the last PWCC auction-highest of a PSA 10 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar #1 sticker was listed in its own price research at $23,766 on May 17, 2016.

Let’s just not get too carried away about the actual red 1986 Fleer #1 card from the red set rather than the stickers. PWCC’s last PSA 10 sale of the actual card (versus the sticker) was $20,400 on March 14, 2022.